|Platform(s)||IBM PC, Amiga, Atari ST|
Shuttle is a 1992 space flight simulator game developed by Vektor Grafix and published by Virgin Games.
Users take control of a space shuttle leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building and then returning to Earth at the Shuttle Landing Facility. Each switch, knob and display of real shuttle control panels are simulated.
However, only a subset of the controls actually worked while the rest caused the shuttle to explode. The operation of the General-Purpose Computers (GPC) required the input according to program commands for the current flight situation in a simplified fashion.
Gameplay consisted of flying through simulations of several different space shuttle missions, starting with the Approach and Landing Tests where the original space shuttle, Enterprise, was flown from the back of a modified Boeing 747 to a gliding landing at Edwards Air Force Base, through to launching the Hubble Space Telescope, building a space station, using the Manned Maneuvering Unit to capture satellites for repairs, and launching 'secret' military satellites.
Due to the complexity of the missions, players could receive optional guidance. Instructions were passed to the player on a 'teleprinter', and when those instructions required the player to use the shuttle controls, the appropriate switch or knob would be indicated by a flashing box. As such, players could play without memorizing the manual, a feature that users praised at the time.
To further ease gameplay, the game supported multiple different camera views, more than the standard control panel and external view found in most simulators of the time. The player could also look out of any of the cockpit windows, including back into the payload bay when retrieving or releasing satellites, and some of the CCTV cameras on the Remote Manipulator System. In addition, for those who wanted to know a little more about the shuttle but did not wish to read NASA technical details, the developers also provided an in-game primer giving a few pages of information and some diagrams on each of the major Space Shuttle systems. Finally, the publishers supplied a game manual and a large poster showing the control panels.
Given the scope and complexity of the game, the game was released with many bugs and issues. In particular, the autopilot could get confused and fly some very unusual re-entry trajectories. In early releases, it was impossible to fly the last mission.
Computer Gaming World applauded the level of detail accomplished in Shuttle, and Stanley Trevena reviewed the game for Computer Gaming World, and stated that "Players with an interest in space and hard-core simulation fans alike will blast off into orbit with this new simulation from Virgin." The magazine ran it in their 1992 "Simulation of the year", which ultimately went to Falcon 3.0 by Spectrum Holobyte.
In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared Shuttle the 50th-worst computer game ever released.